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Six out of ten of the UK’s smallest businesses have had to employ additional HR staff to cope with the auto-enrolment pension setup process, according to a new survey* released by AutoenrolSME.

The survey by AutoenrolSME, a new pension auto enrolment service developed in partnership with Quartz Payroll, addressed business owners of companies with between 62 and 249 staff. These are the companies who are legally obliged to have a pension auto-enrolment scheme by 1 April, 1 May and 1 July 2014 (the next compliance dates).

The survey found 14% of businesses recruited an additional full time HR staff member to cope with the additional workload, while a third of businesses were forced to hire additional part-time staff. 31% of business owners turned to freelance HR staff to help set up the auto-enrolment pension scheme.

The auto-enrolment process has proven both time and cost expensive for small businesses so far. A recent Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) report found that UK small businesses are set to face £15.4bn in set-up costs if they’re to meet the requirements of this new pensions auto-enrolment legislation.

Nearly a third of those surveyed in the AutoenrolSME survey also reported finding it difficult or ‘extremely difficult’ to find a pension provider. The most common difficulties faced included unclear communication from the Government as to what’s required of SMEs (60 per cent of those surveyed) and most pension schemes turning away SMEs due to the size of their company (33%).

Rosie Smith, AutoenrolSME marketing manager said: “There has been so much panic and negativity surrounding the auto-enrolment process, it’s little wonder small business owners have turned to additional HR support. However, despite many panic mongers saying it takes months to get set up, small businesses can be up and running with an appropriate scheme in a matter of weeks.”

Pension auto-enrolment will continue to impact small and medium sized businesses, with the next staging date on May 1 affecting businesses with 90-159 employees.

* The survey was commissioned by AutoenrolSME and conducted by OnePoll between 10 and 18 March 2014. The online survey polled 200 UK business owners of companies with between 62 and 249 staff. Businesses of this size are the next to be affected by the auto-enrolment pension staging dates.

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